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Posted on Feb 24, 2017 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg PC Game Review

Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg PC Game Review

By Rick Martin

Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg Computer Game Review. Publisher Battle Front Price $60 for Mac and Windows

Rick Martin

Passed Inspection: Engrossing campaign play, instant battle generator, incredible immersive graphics

Failed Basic: battle generator has a few bugs in unpatched state, text too small on anything less then a 20” monitor, campaign games load up slowly even on fast machines

The venerable Combat Mission franchise has been providing first class World War 2 and Modern Conflict action since 2000. Originally designed by Charles Moylan as an official Advanced Squad Leader computer game for Avalon Hill, it was picked up by Big Time Software (now known as Battlefront) after the purchase of Avalon Hill by Hasbro. Now with Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg, Battlefront has taken their World War 2 system to a whole new level!

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Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg (CMFB) examines the actions of the Allies and Germans during the critical Battle of the Bulge campaign in December of 1944 but play actually covers October 1944 to January 1945. The player can play German Panzer Troops, German regular Army troops, Waffen SS, Fallschirmjäger and US Army infantry and armor forces.

CMFB is a stand alone game and does not require any other program to play.

The PC system requirements are, at the minimum:
Operating System: Win7/Win8
Processor: Pentium IV 1.8 GHz or equivalent speed AMD processor
Video Card: 256 Megabyte VRAM or better and must support 1024×768 or higher resolution in OpenGL
Sound Card: DirectX 10 compatible Sound Card
System Memory 2 GB RAM
Hard Drive Space: 12 GB
Other requirements: DVD drive (for hardcopy version only)
The game does not work in a virtualized environment (virtual machine)

The game includes a wonderful selection of vehicle units including M5 Stuart Light Tanks, M24 Chaffees, many varients of the M4 Sherman including different versions of the 105 mm howitzer Shermans, M4A1s with the 76mm cannon and even the M4A3 armed with a flame thrower! Other Allied tanks include the Sherman Crab, the M10 and M18 and M36 tank destroyers and even the M12 Gun Motor Carriage armed with a deadly 155mm howitzer which was normally used for indirect fire. Assorted Allied armored cars, trucks, cars and half tracks are also included. A full complement of infantry units and both anti-tank guns and howitzers is also featured. In addition, rocket launchers are available for mounting on the Sherman tank to create the Sherman Calliope which is a first in any simulations I’ve played. All these units are rendered in beautiful detail. Air support is available from P47s and P51s.

As stated previously, the Germans have a mix of infantry units including Waffen SS, Fallschirmjäger and regular army infantry and panzer troops. Axis vehicles include the Panzer II Luchs, four different Panzer IVs, five different versions of the Panther, three different models of the Tiger as well as the massive King Tiger. Assault guns and tank destroyers include the Jagdpanzer 38 including the flamethrower armed version, Jagdpanzer IVs, Marders, Nashorns, JagdTiger and Stugs, StuH42s, Sturmtigers and Jagdpanthers and many other halftracks, armored cars, trucks, cars, howitzers, rockets and guns. German air support is provided by Focke-Wulfes outfitted for ground attacks.

Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg gives the players control over infantry and armored forces. Each unit is a team or squad of soldiers or one vehicle. The player has control over the general tactics of each unit up to and including calling artillery strikes. The wonderful thing about this game system is that the player doesn’t have to have the dexterity of a teenager in order to play the game. You click on a unit (or group of units for giving them team actions) and then tell the unit what to do through easy to understand command menus. Actions include such things as infantry squads or vehicle personal debarking their vehicles, moving troops slowly through terrain while making use of cover, running full speed towards and objective, fire teams setting up or breaking down heavy weapons, setting up zones of fire, etc. For vehicles, you can order them to stay put and ambush the enemy, move slowly, hunt for enemy targets, move full speed, close or open up hatches, etc. You have almost full control over the orders for a unit. After you give the units their orders, you press a button and the action plays out in real time. You can even rewind it and watch it from multiple angles. At times, the unit may not follow your orders based upon morale or other environmental conditions – men under heavy ground fire may just hunker down and try to survive instead of blindly following your orders to charge a machine gun position. In fact, the units behave so realistically that the player often feels like he is controlling real soldiers and not just digital simulations.
A nice feature of Combat Mission is that you can either give orders from 1 minute turn to 1 minute turn or put the game on real time mode where you can give orders as the action constantly plays out. This creates a whole new challenge for the armchair commander.

The game maps can be viewed from almost any angle and height. You can watch from a god’s eye view looking straight down or move the view to the level of the foot soldiers. Whatever view you want, you can set.

The game models a variety of fall and winter weather patterns including the historical weather patterns for the days included in the campaigns.
The terrain is hyper realistic with weather conditions affecting the environment – wind lashes and moves trees, snow and rain obscures your vision and makes solid ground in to mud, etc. All the game objects can be targeted and damaged or destroyed. When soldiers run in side of buildings you can actually see what they see. In fact, Combat Mission feels more like a miniatures game than a tactical war game! Additionally, well done sound affects lead to a great sense of immersion in the game. During one particular night attack mission I played, as the soldiers and tanks tried to advance through the mud and cold drizzling rain, I actually found myself getting cold even though the room was warm. It is this type of dynamic environment which brings this game to life. You really feel that you are there, with these soldiers during this pivotal battle.

A detailed rule book features full tutorials and an encyclopedia of all the units in the game. In the download edition, the rule book is included as a PDF. The tutorials are detailed and help get the new player up to speed.

The problems with Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg are few and far between. For older eyes, the small type font used in the status screens can be disconcerting. If there is a way to increase the size of the fonts, I’ve yet to find it. And while a few other problems with earlier releases in the Combat Mission series have been fixed, it is still far too easy to give a unit an incorrect order for movement. Luckily, the program provides a button which clears the erroneous move and lets the player re-enter the move sequence. Additionally, even on a fast machine such as mine, scenarios or campaigns can take up to three or four minutes to load up; far too long for those waiting for the action to start. In addition, before I patched the game, random scenario generation can, at times, leave the units in an impossible position at the start of the game. For example, when I used the random scenario generator to set up a battle, the game put all my tanks in the middle of a dense forest. The tanks were unable to push through the old growth trees and started the game effectively isolated and stranded. This was a rather annoying bug but after I patched the game, this error hasn’t happened again.

None-the-less, these few complaints aside, Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg is an instant classic of World War II warfare simulations! Well done Battlefront!

Armchair General Rating: 94 %

Solitaire Rating: 5

About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

6 Comments

  1. I own all the Combat Mission games. I have always loved them for their accuracy and attention to detail. But I have to disagree with the reviewer on a few points. The graphics are not incredibly immersive. They are serviceable. The only way to actually get a good look at a unit is to zoom in right up close to it, which is useless for playing the game since you cant’s see anything else that is going on at that level. Also, in playing the game I had to turn off all foliage in order to plan my moves and see what my units were doing. With trees and bushes in full view, much of the battlefield is obscured. As a result, with foliage off, the battlefield looks more like a blasted out WW1 battlefield. This is unfortunate because you lose the real sense of the contours of the battlefield, but you just can’t give accurate orders otherwise. Another issue is the camera. Controlling the camera angles is anything but fluid. At higher levels, units look like ants. At lower levels the units look better but you can’t get a good sense of the battlefield.
    All that aside, the Combat Mission series is some of the best battle simulations out there. There are a lot calculations going on behind the scenes that you don’t have to worry about, so you can just play the game. Soldiers don’t have a death wish and will react like real people if given faulty orders. Armor is not invulnerable, AAMAF it can be very fragile if not protected properly. Combat Mission games are the best tactical battle simulations around, even with the aforementioned issues.

  2. As a long time CM supporter I have to be honest, you should not support a company such as battlefront. They used to represent something special in the way of strategy war games. Over time it turned into pay for “patches” that they market as upgrades. And now if you want to get some of the current gen games to work you have to buy the 15$ “patch” to get it work on windows 10. The company has become greedy beyond the likes of matrix. Its an absolute disappointment. I love the games and the developers are very skilled at what they do but they need to stretch outside to an actual publisher who wont alienate the base for one of the last few developers who make quality war games. actual upgrades are one thing but just look at what your 15$ buys for a 1-3 year old game with the major selling point of “it will work on windows 10 now, and just windows 8 because our licensing engine sucks”

    • And further more if you are any sort of average computer user who wipes their computer from time to time, get ready for some support tickets due to the x number of installs before its invalid 1990′s business. As if theres are so many people out there just itching to rip of this game, they will put their paying customers who pay minimum of 60$ upward of 120$ for a game and its expansion in one go on the sideline to question why they had to install the game 3 times over a period of 3 years. Ridiculous. I have no idea who runs their PR, Distribution and Security but he must be an absolute narcissist.

    • And yes, they do give you the 20 questions as to why your installing it with the threat that you might have to purchase it again. Totally done with this company.

    • I haven’t had a problem running the games on Windows 10. But if there was a problem, couldn’t you just run the game in compatibility mode? On the matter of not supporting Battlefront as a company, that is a decision that will have to be left to the individual. Their games can be pricey, but they are a small niche company dealing with a limited consumer base, so I guess that is to be expected. Even so, they are nowhere near as costly as the recent Gary Grigsby games(War in the East/West). I agree that upgrades to an existing game should be provided free. DLCs should be paid for if you want them. I also agree that once the game is purchased it is yours in perpetuity. You should never have to repurchase a game because you used up the number of “installs” allocated. We all have computer issues. Breakdowns, system upgrades, new computer purchases. This happens over the course of time so you may need to reinstall a game you bought years ago. You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops or spend more money to do it. Finally, a customer will return if he feels he is getting value for his dollar. Conversely, if he doesn’t, he won’t. Good customer service is vital, because once your customer loses faith with you, you’re going to have a difficult time regaining it.

  3. Well, developers got to live too. I can see their point of view for charging for updates. You clearly don’t work in the software (or gaming) industry if you think 15$ every few years is bad. Bug fixes should to some degree be free of course, but even those should have a cut off date/severity. Gamers are so entitled these days.

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